Monday, November 17, 2014

Real Life Stories from a DIY Wedding

Do a DIY wedding they say, it will be fun they say...yeah sure haha.  No but really, it did make the experience much more...ours? I'm not sure what word I'm looking for there but basically, everything we did came from our hearts and our heads. We had to determine what we wanted from the cake, to the decor, to our attire. Each piece of our wedding was personalized - no, not with monograms - but it was personal to us. So here are the things we did allll on our own, and my thoughts on whether or not it was worth it...

DO design and print your own invites

This was a great idea. It was a bit stressful because my design skills were a tad rusty...but if you know someone who can design your wedding invites for you - do it. You can also explore using online invite companies or even find designers on What I did was hand-draw my invites, scan them in, and then cleaned and colored them in using photoshop. From there, I actually bought cardstock from Michaels and then printed them at Office Depot. I think we ended up spending under $100 on 70 invites. Pretty crazy considering the 2013 national average spent on invites was $443.00.

DO get your flowers from a flower farm

This was an adorable idea but it all depends on the time you have. For me, everything got really rushed at the end. So it would have been nice to have the morning of our rehearsal dinner off, not worrying about getting up at the crack of dawn to pick flowers. However, it was a really fun activity for me and my girls to do. I had a few bridesmaids and also some family members from both Andrew and my side come out. Though it was a pain in some ways - it was also refreshing and a bonding moment. I think just to save time, I would still do a flower farm, but ask that they pick them for you. That way, you would have more time to actually arrange the flowers which is definitely much more time consuming than you would think.

DO write your own vows and make them unique to you as a couple!

It took us forever to do this piece and we definitely waited until the last minute - but it was so worth it. Our vows were something that we wrote ourselves and because of that, they were perfectly us. Now I do know that some people want to go the traditional or religious route and that's completely fine as well...but we decided that we wanted our ceremony to be completely us.  We worked together and created the entire script of our ceremony, pulling quotes from different pieces we loved, some traditional, some not, and we also worked in a few family traditions (detailed below). We wrote our vows separately and read them during the ceremony to each other for the first time. We put some boundaries over how to write them (we did it in a "I promise to x, y z" format) so it ended up being really sweet and flowing perfectly. We also wrote letters to each other to read before the ceremony and I really loved that.

DO insert some traditions from both sides of the family or create new ones

This was some of the most fun and memorable things we did. We started incorporating our heritage and families with our attire. My husband wore a kilt in honor of his Scottish heritage and I actually wore his grandmothers dress that was re-designed for me. The second thing we did was use Scottish traditions in our wedding ceremony by having an oathing stone and having a Scottish poem recited at the end of our ceremony. With an oathing stone, guests pass around the stone and make a wish on it, sending the stone their vibes of happiness for the couple. Then it gets passed up to the couple and they take their vows while holding it. The next tradition was from my Dutch heritage, a wishing tree.  This was something similar to the oathing stone but in this tradition you write your wishes for the couple on a piece of paper then hang it from the tree.  Our wishing tree was absolutely gorgeous, and now we have all of the wishes from our family forever.  At our first Christmas together, we hung the wishes on our garland across the mantle. It was a really sweet way to remember the big day forever.  These traditions really made the wedding feel special and like we incorporated both of our families in to everything we did. It's also something we can pass on and our children can do at their weddings :)

DO make your own cake (but enlist help!)

This actually worked out great (besides me picking the wrong cake stand).  My mom and best friend actually made my wedding cake and cupcakes for the wedding. They were able to do this by making each piece a few weeks in advance and freezing them. Genius. So if you have a big freezer - and you test it all out in advance and know the cake you picked thaws well - do it. It did take a lot of time to do, but because you can freeze it, I think it's totally do-able.  All in all, the cupcakes and cake thawed out wonderfully and they looked and tasted great!  So shout out to mom and Lauren. You kick butt.

DO be thrifty and buy your decor, DON'T rent it

This is definitely the best plan.  I am very lucky that my mom is a huge thrift store junkie and so is one of her best friends, Jacquie. Basically my mom, Jacquie, myself and my best friend looked all through the time I was engaged for things we could use at the wedding...vases, candles, unique props, and little knick knacks that we put on the table that made it "us".  I also bought a few things online from bulk wedding vendors using That's where I bought my linens (at the same price it would have cost to rent them) and my votives (at cheaper than it would have cost to rent them). I highly suggest you consider purchasing things over renting them because 1. its cheaper and 2. you can re-sell it. We also scavenged through our homes for decor to use. This was a great thing to do because alot of things in your home have memories connected to them, so it meant something to have those pieces there :)

DO have an IPod wedding but DON'T hit "shuffle"

This was an interesting DIY project. We thought this would be totally easy and run really smoothly butttttt not so much. It went fine, don't get me wrong, and I doubt anyone even noticed, but I noticed. We spent a few months gathering up songs we wanted for the cocktail hour, dinner, and dancing pieces of our wedding. We actually used Spotify to store them all, which was great, but we ended up freaking out and selecting too much music and we also didn't put it in any particular order. That's where we failed. If you're going to pick your own music and do an Ipod wedding, it can work, but you need to be sure you put your songs in the order you want. That way, you are guaranteed to hear the songs you love.  Some of the songs I couldn't WAIT to dance to at my wedding, never came up. So make sure you have enough music to last the whole time (and then some), and make sure you don't hit shuffle.

Those were just a few of the DIY projects we did and all in all, I think that doing a DIY wedding was definitely worth it. You're still going to end up spending a bunch of money, because weddings are expensive, you cannot get around that, but it will definitely help your wallet in the long run.  It also made it really fun to be able to work on some of these things with your friends and family.  Having a wedding definitely isn't all about the big day, it's about the experience, and DIY weddings give you a pretty memorable experience ;)

Monday, November 3, 2014

Go All Blacks!!!

After our trip to SE Asia, we flew in to Chicago for the most exciting sporting event of all time. Now I'm not normally a sports girl, but when my husband and I started dating, he introduced me to rugby. Being from New Zealand, he was a PROUD All Blacks fan, so he and I watched the Rugby World Cup in 2011 in the wee hours of the morning. We watched every game that NZ was in...staying up until 1am or waking up at 4am for the game (thanks to it being held on the other side of the world).  They ended up winning 8-7 to France in the from that time on, I was an All Blacks fan.  So back in June 2014 I found out that the All Blacks were coming to the US for the first time since the 1980s to play. It's pretty much a huge deal, so I decided to make it work and buy tickets. When the SE Asia trip rolled around, everything worked out perfectly because Chicago was a stop on our route we just decided to have an extended layover :)

We landed in the afternoon on Halloween.  In Asia the average temperature was 80-90 something degrees...when we got in to Chicago, it was about 30. And we didn't have any winter clothes, or closed toed shoes for that matter...WHAT?!?@!?@!? Talk about a temperature shock! It was snowing on the train ride to town and when we got off the subway stop near our hotel, we had to run through what had turned in to freezing rain about 4 blocks to where we were staying.  I felt like I was going to die.  Andrew's mom was coming in the town the next morning with all of our winter gear...but it was Halloween so we decided to run to the shops to buy some shoes and a coat so that we could go out. We stayed at the International Hostel (which is pretty nice for a hostel, just in case you were wondering) which was really convenient to everything. We checked in then went up the street to hit the DSW for boots and then Macy's for a coat.  Both for me because Andrew had closed toed shoes and he felt he could suffer through the cold until his mom came the next day.

Macy's in Chicago is fantastic...but only because it used to be Marshall Fields. My mom lived in Chicago for a while growing up and her mother modeled for Marshall Fields so I especially love it.  I had a great time going up the escalator, seeing all of the Christmas decor, and then finding the perfect down coat :) After shopping we headed over to a pub that supposedly had great Chicago style pizza.  Andrew had never been to Chicago, therefore he hadn't ever had their we figured why not?  It ended up being delicious...and while there we saw the Pope (remember it's Halloween), so I would say we had a pretty great night ;)

The next day was the big day...the day I would see the All Blacks play, in person, for the first time.  I was SOOO EXCITEDDDD! We started by meeting Andrew's family at their hotel just a block away. We got ready in our fancy All Blacks gear that I had bought online a few months prior, and painted our faces...I pretty much had the best fern uni-brow ever (unintentional but I went with it).  While we got ready we did a bit of pre-gaming before we headed out to tailgate with my sister-in-law's rugby friends. She plays rugby up in Boston, soooooo they were pretty much the best people to tailgate with haha. After a few drinks at the tailgating area, Andrew and I decided we needed to rush in to the game so that we didn't miss the infamous New Zealand haka.  It's pretty much the best thing ever as you can see below (note Ali Williams favorite player that unfortunately retired from the team)...

Anyway - in came the All Blacks...they did the haka (it gave me chills) and then the game was off.  We had awesome seats, not so much because of where they were, but because of who was around us.  We had a great mix of USA fans and All Blacks fans.  It was so much fun watching it with them because the USA fans KNEW that they were going to get they just laughed the whole way through with us.  The final score was brutal...74 to 6...poor USA...

After the game we went back to the girls hotel and my husband passed out haha. Poor jet lagged thing. He was SO tired and his mom ended up falling asleep too haha.  So I hung out with the girls. They're crazy. And it was great. But I was getting soooooo tired. When my husband and mother-in-law woke up we decided to go get some food. We walked down to a lovely diner called Eleven City Diner. Pretty good! I definitely suggest it! However, after that, we were all stuffed...and tired...and jet rather than going out with the crazed fans...we were lame and fell asleep early.

The next morning we were up early so we decided to take my husbands mom to breakfast. His sister had just got back to their hotel like an hour earlier (if only I could party that hard) so my mother-in-law snuck out and came to eat with us at Wildberry Pancakes & Cafe...Talk about AMAZING! There was a huge wait to get in, but once we were was go time. I hadn't had a real American breakfast in over a my husband and I went to town. 
After breakfast we decided to check out some shops with my husbands mom before she left to go back home.  As we were walking around we kept running in to NZ fans and Andrew and I were wearing some of our gear so we kept getting nods and "how ya going?"s.  It was pretty cute.  We did a bit of shopping and then said our good-byes and decided to walk to the Navy Pier.  Bad idea...because I was in new boots...and the pier was ages away.  After an hour and a half we finally got to the pier. I was so pooped...and Andrew was so pooped....we took a look at the view, went and ate a hot dog and then turned right back around to find the subway. We grabbed our stuff from our hotel, and then headed back on to the subway to the airport.  While at the airport, my husband fell asleep under the chairs in the terminal...classic. We got home that night around 10pm.  We were tired...but we did it.  We made it back from SE Asia, to Chicago, through the cold, and our first New Zealand All Blacks game together...and it was great.